Difficulties with Obligations

I’m an (somewhat) experienced Gamemaster in other systems, played some time in a F+D setting and am now GM in an EotE setting. Playing with 5 players, 4 of those are new to the system.
The game is running smoothly in general, but I am having trouble managing the Obligations.
I would like to run it as follows: Between the sessions I roll on the obligation, to check whether they are triggered, to give me enough time to prepare for the next session. The sessions runs as normal, and at a fitting opportunity I include a scene about the obligation and tell the players: This was an obligation scene, everybody reduce strain threshold by one, character x reduce it by two.

My biggest problem is coming up with suitable scenes. Stuff like bounty is rather easy, you can always add a scene where the group finds bounty posters, is followed by some bounty hunters, some person knows about the bounty etc. but with several obligations, I am rather stumped on how to include them.

Do you have ideas how small scenes about the following obligations could play out?
Player A:
Family/Responsibility: The Tholothan player feels connected/responsible towards all Tholothans, especially ones fleeing from the empire.
I can always include rumors of Tholothans in the area killed by the Empire, but as they are playing quite far away from Tholoth, this can only happen that often.

Player B: (Anti Riot Robot)
Dutybound: can never kill
Here I see situations where someone he incapacitates actually dies, even though he used stun weapons.
Favor: he has been saved by a scrap merchant and would do everything for him.
I could always use this as a hook for upcoming adventures, but I do not really know how to argue that this obligation triggers the strain penalty.

Similar cases are with other characters who have obligations like:
Family: mother has been sold as slave to a Hutt
Favor: has been saved by a Pirate Captain
Betrayal: Left his Circus-family behind when they were attacked.

I can absolutely see how I can start a plot from these points, but incorporating these obligations into the game in the way of: “next session scene X is happening, and they will get -1 strain threshold” is so difficult for me.

Do you have any recommendations how to handle this kind of obligations?

Furthermore, I can see obligations like Favour or Betrayal being reduced over time by playing fitting plots. But reducing Tholothans Family/Responsibility and the Robots Dutybound seems very hard for me, as this would require a massive change in the characters.

Perhaps the character meets another Tholothian, and that Tholothian asks him for help with something. This could be manipulative, this could be genuine, but it’s a way to play on that Obligation. Or perhaps he comes across a slaving operation, where the slavers are selling to the Empire. It just so happens that some of their prisoners are Tholothians. Or he learns of an enclave of Tholothians doing… something. Perhaps they are crossing a crime lord or resisting the Empire, but either way they are putting themselves in danger through their own actions. Perhaps the player feels compelled to lend them material aid or make a supply run for them.

Edit: For reducing Obligation, it can never go below 5 anyway. When he follows up on one of the side-stories, reduce it appropriately. This makes it less likely that an event will trigger, but it also makes it less likely that he’ll take a Strain hit from regret/guilt/etc., and there’s nothing preventing you from bringing up his Obligation when it hasn’t technically triggered.

The scrap merchant asks him to kill someone… >:D
“Can never kill” is what I would term a passive Obligation. This is something that the player will be dealing with on a very regular basis, and so an additional thing for triggering it may not be necessary. Bear in mind that stun weapons can, in rare instances, cause death (and have a 50% chance of causing a miscarriage, but he’s unlikely to be stunning a lot of pregnant women). A Despair or significant amount of Threat on an incapacitating attack could be used to kill someone instead of just stunning them, increasing the character’s Obligation by a small amount. Then when his Obligation triggers, it’s simply stress/regret from having taken a life. You should make sure the player is on board with this though. If he wants to never kill anyone except by choice, this may not be a good path to take.
Reducing the Obligation could come from saving opponents from death, either by healing life-threatening injuries, by pulling someone up before they fall off a cliff, etc.

As for the scrap merchant, if it’s something pressing or time-limited and they are far(ish) away, the lowered Strain can be from being anxious to go help, and concerned that he will fail or will not get there in time.


Remember, lowered strain threshold on allies doesn’t have to be through sympathetic response. It can be because the PC is so irritating when anxious about a given issue that he drives everyone crazy. Or because they don’t like the scrap merchant. Or anything else you come up with.

My method is to write up basic side-stories (or often even session-hijacking stories, adding more of a penalty for chasing them down) for the Obligations, and make sure I know how to run them on a moment’s notice. When an Obligation triggers, their ST reduces and I insert the story into that session. Another method is to roll for Obligation and the end of the session, in preparation for the next session. So they receive the ST penalty in the session in which the event happens, but you still get the time to prepare the whole thing.

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Alot of these you can just have as part of their dreams from the night on how it is impacting them versus being a physical interaction.

Family - The mother with the hutts you walk by a group of Klatooine, which reminds him that his mother is still with the hutts. (hopefully I have my race corrcect) Or in a dream he sees his mother being force to work and being mistreated. Seeing someone else who is a slave that causes him to remember his mother’s situation.

Favor - he gets a message from the captain asking where he is at, so the captain can determine if it is time for him to pay him back. But then they are too far from the captain so he reminds him that he will be calling in the future for it.

Betrayal - having a nightmare of reliving the attack. See a sign from a different Circus that is in town. Even as simple as seeing someone that looks like one of his family. If they are still around he sees and ad for his Family’s Circus on the Holo net.

They don’t not need to be major events that remind the players of their obiligations, they can be small things that bring up those memories. Their dreams are the best spot to have them since it will greatly reduce the chance of them derailing the mission and acting on what has happened.

Unless they are like the skywalkers, Then they can’t leave it alone.

As a 0/a point: You might have a misunderstanding (a lot players have) with the obligation roll. It doesn’t make you derail the story in anyway that you have to include it. It simply represents the characters guilt/stress/preoccupation with their own sh*t even though they have other matters. It can be a scene, it can be a sidequest, but perfectly good just to tell them they had nightmares screamed whole night and the whole crew heared it and everyone’s distressed. (E-CRB p42)
0/b: Your players have some obligations that are really not obligationa but Motivations. I know, it gets confusing in the book, but generally it’s about the dilemma you face right now. Obligation is something that haunts the player, causes him discomfort and HE WANTS TO GET RID OF IT. Your droids anti kill policy is not an obligation in anyway if it is part of his personality, also his Favor is also bad, because it’s not a Favor he wanta to get rid of. Asking the Godfather for something and he says that you own him one is an obligation.
So to your actual question:
Player A: an imperial /hutt slave convoy shows up or the player just gets a rumour about that a slavemarket will be held somewhere, sometimes in the future.
Player B: Honestly I’d revisit this player’s obligation and talk to him because he won’t be able to reduce it in a way that’s satisfactory to any of you.
Mother in slavery: well you can always get news that she is treated bad or resold or something that’s enough reason to stress about it. Otherwise, Tuskens could kidnap her ;)
Pirate Captain: Again same as the droid, because it’s really only Obligation if their relationship is toxic and he wants to repay the pirate (or kill) so he is free from it. He can give plothooks, drag the player into fighta he don’t want, his enemies can look for him through the player, all potencial scenes.
Circus betrayal: Again, he needs something here that makes him complication, other than guilt because that’s just backstory. The circus is coming at him for it? Or he wants to make amenda, but they don’t let him? He can have small encounters with some of them, or get news of their tours, someone died, someone’s fired or left and meet with him.

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The relationship doesn’t have to be toxic, and it doesn’t have to be something you’re looking to get rid of. According to the rules, you can’t technically ever get rid of Obligation entirely or reduce it below 5, which often means you’ll have a “dormant” Obligation from a narrative perspective (Aha! I’ve finally dealt with X.") only for it to pop up again.
An example of that would be a glitterstim addict who thinks he’s gotten over it, only to have someone come up to him and try to sell him some.

And sometimes (also discussed in the book) it isn’t something you want to reduce to 0 or will otherwise be a “persistent” Obligation. An example of that would be a Family Obligation. The freighter captain has a wife and kids at home, and it’s his job to provide for them. Being away on a freighter so much of the time is hard, but… you get the point. He doesn’t want to “get rid” of his Obligation, because that would mean “getting rid” of his family. So it stays.

“Dutybound: Can never kill” is something I would argue is definitely an Obligation. Peoples’ gaming philosophies on this vary, but I believe things like this are good Obligations. Retired clone refuses to kill clones? Well, now if he’s going to fight stormtroopers in the early days of the Empire, he’s limited to stun weapons at best, and he’ll be trying to stop others from hurting them. When it triggers, now the Empire shows up and he’s got to save his friends without hurting any of the clones. Besides, how do you know it won’t be satisfactory to any of them? Aside from personal taste, like I/the book said, it can be a persistent Obligation that never goes away.

I also disagree with you on the Pirate Captain. It’s a Favor Obligation, that means the pirate captain can call in a Favor, potentially dragging the PC into something he doesn’t want to be dragged into, or else increasing his Obligation when he refuses. It doesn’t have to be toxic, just like the aforementioned freighter captain doesn’t necessarily have a toxic relationship with his wife and kids.

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You do make a good arguement in the topic, I might have to rethink my view on the obligations :slight_smile:

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You have given me so much input and ideas, thank you so much.
I really didn’t think enough about the obligations in the past, but with some ideas, I guess I will be able to flesh them out better.

Query for ideas for an obligation that’s triggered, “Family, Rule-Breaker” for a Mechanic Modder. Thinking of the family calling for help with some pesky equipment that he made illicit mods to before, but no one can get running again. What kind of equipment would it be? PC is a Besalisk. So something to do with the general cold on Ojom?

If the family’s central heater is rapidly shutting down, he may need to get home in a hurry to fix it.

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